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Firearm Safety In America-NRA Update

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Firearm Safety In America-NRA Update


The numbers of privately owned guns, gun owners, and Right-to-Carry states have risen steadily and are now higher than ever. Meanwhile, the nation's violent crime rate has decreased every year since 1991 and is now at a 23-year low, the annual number of deaths involving firearms has decreased every year since 1993, and firearm accident deaths have decreased almost every year for decades. Statistics from the National Center for Health Statistics, covering annual numbers and rates of death due to accidents and other reasons from 1981 through 1999, are available at www.nraila.org -- click on "research," then "accident statistics." Or, visit www.cdc.gov/ncipc/wisqars or wonder.cdc.gov. Accidental death statistics dating to 1903 are available from the National Safety Council.



Firearm-related deaths have decreased every year since 1993. Overall, they have decreased 27% since 1993.

Firearm accident deaths have been decreasing for decades. Since 1930, the annual number of firearm accident deaths has decreased 74%, while the U.S. population has more than doubled and the number of guns has quintupled. Among children, such deaths have decreased 84% since 1975.

Firearm accident deaths are at an all-time low, among the entire U.S. population and among children. In 1999, there were 824 firearm accident deaths, including 88 among children.

The firearm accident death rate is at an all-time low -- 0.3 per 100,000 population. It has declined 91% since the all-time high in 1904.

Firearms are involved in only 1.2% of all deaths, and in only 1.2% of deaths among children.

Firearms are involved in only 0.8% of accidental deaths. Most accidental deaths involve or are due to motor vehicles (42%), falls (13%), poisoning (12%), suffocation (6%), drowning (4%), fires (3%), medical mistakes (3%), and environmental factors (2%). Among children, firearms are involved in only 1.5% of accidental deaths. Most accidental deaths among children involve or are due to motor vehicles (44%), drowning (16%), suffocation (13%), fires (10%), falls (2%), environmental factors (2%), medical mistakes (2%), and poisoning (1%).

Education decreases firearm accidents. Voluntary firearms safety training, not government intrusion, has caused firearms accidents to decline. Nationwide, 57,000 NRA Instructors and Coaches conduct firearm safety and proficiency programs reaching more than 700,000 participants annually. Young Americans benefit from learning firearm safety early on, in NRA programs offered through civic groups such as the Boy Scouts, Jaycees, the American Legion, and schools. (See www.nrahq.org -- click on "Education and Training," or call 703-267-1500.) NRA's Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program teaches children pre-K through 6th grade that if they encounter firearms without supervision, they should "STOP! Don't Touch. Leave The Area. Tell An Adult." Since 1988, Eddie Eagle has been used by more than 22,000 schools, civic groups, and law enforcement agencies to reach 17 million children. (See www.nrahq.org -- click on "Safety Programs," or call 703-267-1573.)


Setting the Record Straight on Anti-Gun Myths and Deceptions

Cars and Guns: "Gun control" supporters believe that government intrusion, rather than education, is the key to reducing accidents. They erroneously claim that driver licensing and auto registration caused motor vehicle accident deaths to decline between 1968-1991 and theorize that gun registration and gun owner licensing would reduce firearm accident deaths. They rhetorically ask, "We register drivers and license cars, why shouldn't we require the same for guns and gun owners?"


There are several flaws in the anti-gunners' theory. Vehicle registration and driver licensing laws were imposed to generate revenue, not reduce accidents. Nor was safety a side-benefit to the increased regulation. Most vehicle registration and driver licensing laws were imposed between the world wars, but motor vehicle accident deaths increased sharply after 1930 and didn't begin declining until 1970. And despite more regulation of vehicles and drivers over the years, vehicle accident deaths have increased during the last decade. Point of fact, between 1968-1991, the years cited by the anti-gunners, the motor vehicle accident death rate dropped only 37% with vehicle registration and driver licensing, while the firearm accident death rate dropped 50% without gun registration and gun owner licensing. The truth is, "gun control" supporters want registration and licensing not for safety, but to erect the record-keeping apparatus necessary to make confiscation of privately owned firearms achievable in the future. Handgun Control, Inc's. first leader defined registration as the second step in a three-step plan to confiscate handguns. (Pete Shields, quoted in The New Yorker, "A Reporter At Large: Handguns," July 26, 1976.)


Another fundamental distinction between "cars and guns" is that the purchase and ownership of arms is a right expressly protected by the constitution, whereas operating a vehicle on public roads is a privilege. Note that a license and registration is not required to merely own a vehicle or operate it on private property, only to do so on public roads. Similarly, licenses and permits are not typically required to buy or own a gun, or to keep a gun at home, but are required when using a gun to hunt publicly-owned game or to carry a gun for protection in public places.


Firearm accidents among "children": Handgun Control (now Brady Campaign) president, Michael Barnes, and longtime anti-gun senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) have teamed up to allege that 12 children die from gun accidents every day. President Bill Clinton campaigned for so-called "triggerlock" and "smart" gun laws, claiming that 13 children are killed with guns every day. Hillary Clinton said, "Every day in America we lose 13 precious children to gun-related violence." The HELP Network recently put the figure at "an average of 9 children" daily. Other "gun control" advocates have varyingly claimed 5,000 per year, 14 per day, or one every 90 seconds. In fact, on average there are 1.3 such deaths among children per day, including one accidental death every four days. The phony figures are produced by adding the relatively small number of firearm-related deaths among children to the much larger number of deaths among juveniles and young adults under the age of 20, and dishonestly calling the total "children." Sometimes, anti-gunners have counted anyone under the age of 24 as a "child" to get an even higher number. (For details, see www.nraila.org, click "research," "firearm safety," "Not 12 Per Day."


The Oct. 1, 1997 Journal of the American Medical Association presented a study which concluded that so-called "Child Access Prevention" (CAP) laws (which make it a crime, under some circumstances, to leave a gun accessible to a child, if a child obtains and misuses the gun) imposed in 12 states between 1989-1993, decreased fatal firearm accidents among children. The article was written by individuals from the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center, a group active in the HELP (Handgun Epidemic Lowering Plan) Network, which is dedicated to "changing society's attitude toward guns so that it becomes socially unacceptable for private citizens to have handguns." The study's flaws: First, the decline in firearm accident deaths among children began in the mid-1970s, not in 1989, when "CAP" laws started to be imposed. Second, the decrease in fatal firearm accidents among children has been nationwide, not only in the 12 "CAP" states. Third, in 1989, NRA's Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program was introduced nationwide.

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